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Michael Wilbon says he won't be surprised if Dan Snyder is forced to sell Redskins

Michael Wilbon says he won't be surprised if Dan Snyder is forced to sell Redskins

As the situation surrounding the Redskins continues to lose stability, ESPN's Michael Wilbon explained that he could see a scenario where team owner Daniel Snyder sells his controlling interest in the organization. 

"I don't know that [Snyder will sell] but would I be surprised? No," Wilbon said Monday morning on The Sports Junkies. "I wouldn't be surprised at all because I don't believe he's going along with this."

Wilbon's theory is that Snyder is not actually on board with changing the Redskins name, a move that according to NBC Sports Washington and multiple other outlets is imminent. For decades the team name has been a source of controversy, and last week the biggest threat to the team name came when corporate partners FedEx, Nike and Pepsi all asked that Washington change its moniker and imagery associated with Native Americans. 

In the past, Snyder always stood defiant on the issue, saying famously he would "never" change the name.

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"I just thought that while there's all this reporting on cooperation and collaboration, I don't believe a word of that stuff. I believe Snyder wants to fight this every step of the way," Wilbon said. "I don't believe he's going along with this. I believe Snyder is sulking and pouting and raging and I don't buy that he's sitting around and saying, 'Okay how about this name?' I just don't buy it."

The questions about Snyder emerged after Pro Football Talk and The Washington Post reported that three Redskins minority partners want to sell their shares of the team. The three men - Fred Smith, Robert Rothmann and Dwight Schar - own roughly 40 percent of the Redskins. Multiple reports show the group wants out, but can't find a buyer, and there is plenty of speculation about what that could mean for Snyder's majority shares. 

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"The league will get rid of you, the leagues will throw you out," Wilbon said. "I can't see that happening, but that only happens if [Snyder] says, 'I'm not going along with this.'"

Before working at ESPN, Wilbon worked for many years at The Washington Post where he covered the Redskins for multiple seasons. 

Outside of a statement last week announcing that the team will conduct a "thorough review" of its name, Snyder has not been available for comment. 

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Making a case for a DC-themed name for the Washington Football Team

Making a case for a DC-themed name for the Washington Football Team

It's been several weeks since the Washington Football Team announced it was retiring its former name and logo after more than 80 years. Ever since FedEx became the first known sponsor to formally ask Washington to change its name, fans have taken to social media to voice some of their favorites among potential replacements. I spoke with several marketing experts about a few of the fan-generated names, and will use their responses to make a case for some of the most popular suggestions. This is the case for a DC-themed name.

Case for: Washington, D.C.

If there was one sentiment most common amongst the marketing experts interviewed for this project, it was that the Washington Football Team’s best option for a new name is something related to the city the team plays in.

This opinion wasn’t specific to Washington, D.C., as the experts cited other sports teams with great brands related to the city they represent, but the experts did cite the unique opportunities D.C. provides for a brand.

“The general rule of thumb for sports franchise branding is to tap into the elements of a city, a geography, a people that is highly relevant, highly aligned with how people in that area identify themselves,” said Whitney Wagoner, director of the Warsaw Sports Marketing Center at University of Oregon. “The Pittsburgh Steelers are called the Pittsburgh Steelers for a reason. And that identity, that industry, working class, blue collar, hard hat kind’ve imagery really speaks emotionally to people in that city. And that is the strength of that connection, and that’s the strength of that brand. So, in general, you want to find things that really best represent the culture and the people and the uniqueness of that city, of that region.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THIS FAN CONCEPT FOR THE WASHINGTON POTOMACS AS A DC-THEMED NAME

“And so what are those things in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area about people from there? What is to be from there? And the more you can align and tap into those things, conventional wisdom says the stronger that connection, the better the fan base connection will be.”

If done correctly, the Washington Football Team should be able strengthen an already loyal fan base by picking a name based on its city. Tapping into the region is a way to not only pacify some of the fans upset about a name change, but also gain new fans in the people who were not so fond of the previous brand. Doing it correctly, however, will take time, which is why it was wise for the team to temporarily change its name to Washington Football Team for this upcoming season.

Fans have tossed around names like the Senators, Generals and Monuments, but the marketing experts don’t like any of those to win people over. The Washington Senators already existed as the city’s Major League Baseball team until the franchise relocated in 1961. The Washington Generals still exist, but as the frequent lovable losers to the Harlem Globetrotters. And the Monuments, according to RedPeg Marketing CEO Brad Nierenberg, don’t have much energy.

RELATED: GLOBETROTTERS WILLING TO SELL WASHINGTON GENERALS NAME TO WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM

“They’re not gonna be a name that is gonna create energy,” Nierenberg said. “That passion, it doesn’t evoke the type of emotion that a fan base is gonna be rallying around.”

Tim Derdenger, associate professor of marketing and strategy at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business, said a name like the Monuments would become a running joke. But according to his research, if the right name does exist for the team to connect its brand to the city, that is the direction the team should go.

“I did some analysis of that,” Derdenger said, “and what I’ve found is that teams that actually have a connection -- the team brand and name that has a connection to the local environment -- has actually stronger brand equity, higher brand equity.”

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If Washington opts to go in this direction, it wouldn’t be the first professional sports team in the region to do so, and by all accounts, the others have built pretty successful brands. The Washington Capitals struggled for many years after their inception in the mid-1970’s but became a successful brand even before winning their first Stanley Cup title in 2018. Same can be said for the Washington Nationals, who broke through for their first World Series title a year later. Winning obviously helps strengthen a brand, but how that brand sustains through losing is a better judge of how good it is.

Thanks to its location, Washington can create that very type of brand by appealing to more than just people in DMV area. Playing in the capital of the United States also allows the team to build a brand around a name that represents the entire country.

“I think that would be one of their strongest brand elements for them to bring forward,” said Keith Scully, CEO of Strategic-Noise Group and a graduate adjunct professor at Georgetown and American universities. “I think it would be accepted better as well, both on those current customers that they have as well as a nation.

“Taking a look at the Americans, something like that. Something that’s wholesome, and it’s Washington, D.C. How do you go ahead and develop an emotion that goes along with the country. I think they’re in the only place in the United States that can do it. Why not try it?”

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Packers won't have fans for 1st two home games

Packers won't have fans for 1st two home games

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- The Green Bay Packers say they won't have any fans for at least their first two home games this season due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Lambeau Field will not be the same without our fans' energetic support in the stands," Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said in a statement. "Given the extraordinary circumstances this year and the additional protocols in place, though, we determined it was best to take incremental steps to start the regular season. These two games will allow us to focus our attention on safely conducting games inside the stadium with all necessary participants."

That means there won't be any spectators for their Sept. 20 game with the Detroit Lions and their Oct. 5 Monday night game with the Atlanta Falcons.

Green Bay's third home game is Nov. 1 against the Minnesota Vikings. Packers officials say any decision on whether to admit fans for that game would depend on the status of the pandemic, and that they'd consult with local health officials.

This announcement comes two weeks after Packers CEO Mark Murphy had said that any Packers home games this year would include no more than 10,000-12,000 spectators, if any fans were allowed at all.

All other public areas at Lambeau Field, including parking lots, the pro shop and the Packers Hall of Fame, will be closed during the home games that have no fans. The Titletown area surrounding Lambeau Field will remain open to the public, but no team-run, game-day activities will be planned.